I know I should be using a Yeast Starter so that I can make sure I have enough, healthy yeast, but I've never managed to go around to it.

How would I start a yeast starter? How long before brewday should I start?

2 Answers 2

  1. Start early- take the yeast of out the refrigerator ~3 days before brewday, and let it warm up to room temperature.
  2. Boil a pint (2 cups) of water and mix in 1/2 a cup of dry malt extract (DME). Boil that for 10 minutes.
  3. Optionally add yeast nutrients at this point.
  4. Cool the water to 80 degrees or less (set the pan in a sink with an inch or two of water, for example)
  5. Pour this stuff (including sediment) into a sanitized glass mason jar (or something like that)
  6. Add the yeast, then vigorously stir/shake the mixture.
  7. Stopper and airlock the jar (or just use a balloon with a needle hole, or plastic wrap held on by a rubber band)
  8. Store this out of direct light and in a temperature as close as possible to the temperature you plan to ferment your beer at.


  • How about a stir plate?
    – sgwill
    Commented Nov 13, 2010 at 2:29
  • I'd never seen those before, but googling around, it looks pretty cool. Suppose it makes sense- yeast can live without oxygen, but it needs it to reproduce (which is the point of a starter). Spinning a magnet inside to keep the starter aerated would work great for that. I wonder if any other automated aeration methods (eg, a fishtank bubbler) would do the trick... Commented Nov 13, 2010 at 3:06
  • There are "rock" aerators that people have used -- ie. a fish tank bubbler Commented Nov 13, 2010 at 16:06
  • Stir plates are awesome and work very well. But it is definitely a pricey option.
    – Tim
    Commented Nov 13, 2010 at 17:20
  • 1
    Only if you buy them online. I made mine for less than 20 and it works great.
    – Bill Craun
    Commented Sep 19, 2011 at 21:33

One thing that I think makes using starters a lot easier is preparing a bunch of starter wort at one time, keeping quarts in canning jars and then when you are ready to make your starter, all it really takes is a clean vessel, your yeast and a jar of the wort. Making it so much easier will really encourage its use and as you point out, it is a big help to have a starter.

So get a load of quart sized canning jars, make a 3 gallon batch of wort with extract, fill the jars, put them in a water bath in your brewkettle, bring to a boil to seal, let cool and stash in a convenient location. Next time you are brewing, pop one out a couple days before to make your starter.

  • Do you have to worry about that wort getting contaminated if it sits around for a long time? Commented Nov 16, 2010 at 21:16
  • No. The canning process does a great job of preventing contamination.
    – Tim
    Commented Nov 17, 2010 at 17:53
  • Unless you pressure can it, you are at risk of botulism.
    – Denny Conn
    Commented Jun 6, 2012 at 18:52
  • @DennyConn Botulism is a potential concern. However, if proper canning instructions (Tim's instructions might be too vague for me) are followed, there is little need to use a pressure canner just to avoid botulism. As long as the contents of the jar, the jar, and lids are boiled and hot enough when closed up, the botulism bacteria and any other nasties should be dead. As the jar cools it should create a vacuum seal to prevent contamination. Here is an interesting article that talks about botulism in the US related to canning. eatallaboutit.com/2009/07/17/how-safe-is-home-canning
    – Wulfhart
    Commented Jun 8, 2012 at 17:41

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